The Factory Uncovered with M&S

On 3rd May a group of garment technologists and technical assistants from M&S attended The Factory Uncovered CPPD workshop.

The objective of the four hour workshop, led by CEO Jenny Holloway and Production Director Caroline Ash was to provide an insight into how an ethical factory in the UK really operates with the aim of offering complete transparency across the industry.

The session began with a review of the garment manufacturing in the UK today. Jenny explained the garment life cycle and what makes a factory compliant, explaining what SMETA and Fast Forward audits mean to a Factory. Following this discussion the group were then taken onto the Factory floor for a step by step demonstration of each process with Caroline from fabric testing to the three core machines and timings and what to ask to mitigate cabbage. The garment techs were then given an observation task and asked to spend 10 minutes on the Factory floor looking for reasons as to what makes us an ethical and compliant factory, such as lighting, first aiders, yellow markings, correct seating for machinists, metal glove for the cutter, needle policy and no wires on the floor.

Following the tour of the Factory they then spent a session with Senior Pattern Cutter Lauren and Garment Technologist Elle (image left) to learn the impact of their comments in fit sessions, and importantly how to improve this communication to ensure the process is more efficient. Many of the group found this particularly useful and felt it was something they could certainly put into practice in their job roles going forward.

The final part of the session covered how do factories calculate standard minutes? Why are deliveries late? How are AQL’s and in work checks really conducted? Why do retailers PPO’s have a specific number per size yet factories over deliver on certain sizes? And more!

Overall a successful workshop with M&S, feedback included:

‘I learnt about the industry as a whole, how a factory runs, pattern cutting tips that will help in fits and costing. This was very relevant to my job I would recommend’ Eleanor

‘Very useful, staff very knowledgeable’ Joanne

Jayde is now a technical assistant at M&S (image right with Jenny) When she was 14 years old she undertook work experience with Fashion Enter at our boutique in Croydon!

‘I have come a long way since my work experience days at Fashion Enter when they had a boutique in Croydon. I was always persistent when I was in year 10 that I wanted a career in fashion. Today I am working in garment technology at M&S and I’m really enjoying it. It is great to see how far Fashion Enter has come and thank you for that early advice and guidance. In today’s workshop I learnt the importance of communication between retailers and pattern cutters and suppliers. Thank you very much!’ Jayde

‘I gained an understanding of how pattern cutters see fit comments, this will help me to improve how I write them. Experiencing a garment factory and seeing how it operates has taught me so much!’ Gabriella

‘I have learnt so so much about what really happens in a clothing factory. The information about costing garments and pattern cutting was particularly useful’ Anna